Leading with a daring and indulgent approach to colour and silhouette, Siphosihle Masango describes his high fashion label, MASANGO, as a love letter to the “courageous, confident and intelligent citizen of the world”.
The Johannesburg-based fashion label distinguishes itself through its contemporary vision of couture and shows that the designer is an enlightened person, unafraid of exploring a fashionable life outside of trends. Key house codes include a sharply cinched silhouette, contrasted by astoundingly sized, architectural sleeves.
Reflecting on MASANGO’s Joburg Fashion Week Shows
Masango, as the designer is known, also plays with textures quite skilfully. Determined to give us an eyeful with each design, Masango embellishes his dramatic, hourglass silhouettes with an abundance of crystals and pearls.
Seen on illustrious members of the entertainment industry, Masango’s ballgowns are consistently the picture of African luxury and abundance.
MASANGO is one of the most anticipated shows at the upcoming Joburg Fashion Week. While the designer has showcased at Joburg Fashion Week four times, it was initially under the banner of “The Intern” – an incubator programme developed by one of South Africa’s most famed designers, David Tlale.
Following a constructive two years as Tlale’s assistant designer, MASANGO had its debut show at Joburg Fashion Week 2019. A few things were as clear then as they are now: this designer’s keen balance of classic and contemporary, his knack for celebrating the female form in extravagant colour, and his demonstration of an evolved vision of what a “sculptural silhouette” can be.
JOBURG FASHION WEEK MARCH 2016- THE INTERN
This televised programme was developed by David Tlale and followed twelve contestants as they gunned for the sought-after role of “Assistant Designer” to David Tlale. In Masango’s debut collection, the young designer embraced a primarily white palette, embellished with gold zippers and gold-lined floral details.
In creating a primarily white collection, Masango demonstrated his prowess, thinking beyond colour to pull form, dimension, and texture into focus – a precursor to his current signature style.
Masango played with a netted pattern, honeycomb-textured panels, and the asymmetry of off-centre collars, triangular hemlines, and blunt, right-angled slits. Misplaced lapels created jagged, triangular shapes in unexpected places, giving some pieces an angular, futuristic quality. In line with the label’s commitment to blending the current with the classic, Masango produced a collection that fit right into what 2016’s collective imagination envisioned as “futuristic”.
JOBURG FASHION WEEK AUGUST 2016
Masango’s sophomore showcase at Joburg Fashion Week still under the banner of “The Intern” is an interesting case study in restraint from this label. Still, we saw him build a little closer to his current signature, which capitalises on Masango’s refusal of convention, and his desire for his customer to do the same.
The first piece down the runway presented the perfect mission statement for the rest of the collection. This asymmetrical halter-neck piece saw Masango venture into a smart, everyday colour palette of blue, copper and mustard-yellow. Carving out negative space across the chest, the copper-coloured, asymmetrical halter-neck gracefully adjoined a blue collar to the rest of the dress. At the waist, the symmetry of the garment was further disrupted by a subtle peplum detail, balancing out the negative space of an extreme thigh-high slit and triangular underskirt.
The rest of the collection sees Masango grow more assertive in his mission to disrupt convention in a blue kimono and high-low skirting in the menswear offering. On-trend peplum features created movement in the womenswear offering. The designer complicates the classic forms of conventional suits and dresses by experimenting with levels, layers and symmetry.
JOBURG FASHION WEEK 2018
Masango's next Joburg Fashion Week show, featuring his "Café" collection under the David Tlale umbrella, highlighted his growing confidence as a designer. This collection served as a fitting preview to his solo debut in 2019, laying the foundation for the brand's identity.
One notable evolution was Masango's foray into prints, with bold brown, beige, and orange patterns contrasting against black garments. What truly stood out was his menswear innovation, introducing softer, more fluid styles such as asymmetrical black maxiskirts and loosely draped bronze pants with a relaxed hip knot, paired with mesh tops that exposed the torso.
The introduction of an asymmetrical robe brought an effortless charm. In the women's line, Masango explored experimental textures, using gleaming bronze fabric and gold embellishments to adorn black sheath dresses, while a cascading black off-shoulder sleeve became his statement signature.
JOBURG FASHION WEEK 2019
MASANGO's grand debut at Joburg Fashion Week was beautifully kickstarted by a Ndebele praise poet. The collection showcased an array of diverse themes, reflecting the designer's eagerness to make a statement through this inaugural collection. By the end of the show, it was evident that Masango had successfully presented his eponymous brand with distinct, confident, and familiar elements.
Drawing inspiration from "Ladies of Leisure," the collection opened with a patchwork print reminiscent of the one seen in his 2018 "Café" collection. Featuring a multi-colored bull's skull and horns, this print was cleverly integrated into various pieces, including a long caftan with padded shoulders and high-waisted men's trousers.
Masango ventured into redefining men's fashion boundaries, incorporating a mesh top secured with a bow at the collar and a dazzling pink shirt that exuded sensuality when paired with a red blazer. His talent for creating statuesque silhouettes was further exemplified by a stunning layered A-line skirt, cinched at the waist with a wide satin belt.
While the men's collection showcased his creativity, it was in women's fashion that Masango truly shone.
As we countdown to his Joburg Fashion Week show on Friday, 10 November 2023 at 9pm, we are getting ready for a show that’s an homage to culture, craftsmanship and the beauty of African print. It will be a play on structure, form textures and embellishments that are reminiscent of the qualities of the women around MASANGO.